Sam Warburton has been named as British & Irish Lions captain ahead of this summer’s tour of Australia.
Coach Warren Gatland made the announcement after his 37-man squad for the test series was revealed, with a number of big-name omissions from the side.
England captain Chris Robshaw is the biggest casualty, with the Harlequins back-row forward appearing to pay the price for defeat to Wales in the deciding match of the Six Nations.
Jonny Wilkinson also misses out, despite his sparkling form for Toulon in both the Top 14 and Heineken Cup.
Hooker Dylan Hartley was a surprise inclusion, whilst props Matt Stevens and Mako Vunipola were also unexpected names on the list.
Leicester Tigers flanker Tom Croft is also included despite only recently recovering from a neck injury, whilst Paul O’Connell has also been rewarded for his recent form in Europe after returning from a back injury last month.
It’s Warburton who grabs the headlines as leader of the Lions however, and he will take his side firstly to Hong Kong before the real business begins Down Under.
British & Irish Lions squad in-full:
Full-backs: Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg, Rob Kearney
Wings: Tommy Bowe, Sean Maitland, George North, Alex Cuthbert
Centres: Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Brian O'Driscoll, Manu Tuilagi
Fly-halves: Owen Farrell, Jonathan Sexton
Scrum-halves: Mike Phillips, Ben Youngs, Conor Murray
Props: Cian Healy, Adam Jones, Dan Cole, Matt Stevens, Mako Vunipola, Gethin Jenkins
Hookers: Dylan Hartley, Richard Hibbard, Tom Youngs
Locks: Alun Wyn Jones, Paul O'Connell, Geoff Parling, Richie Gray, Ian Evans
Back row: Toby Faletau, Jamie Heaslip, Dan Lydiate, Sean O'Brien, Justin Tipuric, Tom Croft, Sam Warburton
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